No local coronavirus testing until end of the month

DPHSS Director Linda DeNorcey said the number of visitors Guam gets from Asia makes our island "extremely vulnerable" to the coronavirus.

The Department of Public Health and Social Services now expects to receive its first coronavirus test kit by early next week but the DPHSS lab won’t be able to conduct local tests for exposure to the coronavirus until the end of the month.

The Guam Public Health Laboratory is one of the few facilities chosen by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to receive test kits. Their arrival has been delayed because of flaws in the original design that required the kits to be remanufactured.

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At the pandemic response plan meeting this week, DPHSS Director Linda DeNorcey said the number of visitors Guam gets from Asia makes our island “extremely vulnerable” to the coronavirus.

She told the Pacific News Center today that the CDC has advised her that Guam’s remanufactured test kit will be sent out tomorrow and they should arrive should be here by next week, Friday, March 12.

However, DeNorcey said the public health laboratory “must perform validation and verification studies to ensure quality control precision and accuracy” before samples from any local residents can be tested for exposure to the virus.

The first local coronavirus test conducted at the Guam public health laboratory probably won’t begin until March 30, she said.

In related news, the U.S. House has approved an emergency spending package of over $8 billion to help states, and territories prepare for and control the spread of the coronavirus.

Local jurisdictions have to apply for the funding and Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas issued a release today urging GovGuam to do just that saying the money is clearly needed to pay for testing kits, thermal scanners, and procurement of temporary isolation quarters.

Meanwhile, the two-day pandemic planning conference wrapped up today and at 6:30 this evening, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero will be speaking to the Guam Medical Association meeting at the Dusit Thani.

The Sorensen Media Group will be carrying her address live on Fox 6, on the PNC website and Facebook page, and on K-57 radio.

The governor will talk about the ongoing preparations for the coronavirus, her proposal for universal health care coverage and the overall state of the island’s healthcare system.